Elden Ring on Xbox Series X – The DVDfever Review

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Elden Ring has been a long time coming. The collaboration of From Software (Dark Souls and Bloodborne etc) and George RR Martin of Game of Thrones fame contributing to the world lore.

You play as a Tarnished, warriors and mages etc cast out from the Lands Between when the shattering happened and the gods no longer needed you. In this current time you have been brought back to the Lands Between to follow a destiny to become the Elden Lord. On your journey you will be taking out the numerous Lords that are sitting on the thrones as you go and hopefully restore the world to some sort of balance……. I think!

Typical From Software storytelling style, like with the Dark Souls games, is that you get a little information from the opening cutscene and then as you play you will start piecing things together for yourself from cutscenes and lore attached to various items.

So, for nigh on three weeks now, and 65 hours play so far, I still haven’t finished this game! I have reached the Mountain Tops of the Giants after working through the Citadel, and now am following a NPC quest which can change the outcome of the ending.

My chain of thought has been need to write my review… but… Elden Ring!! No must really get this review done but I’ve just discovered something new to do and so on….

So the world of Elden Ring is a huge open world map split into various regions like swamps, mountains, volcanic and so on. If you go off exploring you can end up in a whole world of hurt if you wander into an area where enemies can one hit you. Granted there is no set path as such and you can do what you want and go where you want but have to be mindful of your surroundings. I have seen other reviews and folk referencing Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and making similarities. Yeah, I get that given it is a huge open world in itself, but enemies tend to be the same round the map, and you learn to deal with the new ones you encounter. Personally, I think it is more like the classic Gothik series of games which are also open world, but end up in the wrong area, the enemies will be to overpowered for you to make decent headway.

Unlike many open world games, you don’t get any quest markers of even a quest log, which can be a right pain keeping track on something. I am doing the Ranni quest line presently, and it spans so many different areas that you can’t just start it and then see it through immediately like you would on, say, Skyrim. The quest has some specific things that need doing which you cannot do from the off like the battle against Starscourge Redahn, which is needed to unlock a new area to be able to collect something. Not having a quest log means having to manually keep notes, which isn’t good, as you have to put down your controller whilst doing so, and you could end up getting invaded by another player. With some sites of grace (equivalent of the bonfires) when you look on the map, they do have pointers showing the rough direction to the next boss and that’s it.

Elden Ring Gameplay Walkthrough Part 1 FULL GAME PS5 – No Commentary – MKIceAndFire

The combat itself is similar to the Souls series of games with health, magic and stamina bars which you level up as you go. The same mechanic of death and then retrieval is still there, and if you get killed before the latter, you lose all your runes (runes instead of souls). There have been countless times I have lost 30k+ runes to a daft mistake! The new additions are stealth, which can be handy for the numerous encampments, where you can sneak up behind someone and back-stab them, either killing them with one shot or taking their health low enough for a second swipe to finish them off. An irksome issue I have found – which is also in prior games – is that if you are locked on and the back-stab doesn’t kill the enemy, the lock-on drops off?!

On top of the stealth, you also now have a dedicated jump button which is handy during combat. I have found that if an enemy swings at you, you can often jump over their attack and hit them with a mid-air swipe, which does a fair bit of damage. You also have Ashes of War available to attach to your weapons, which you will find scattered round the map or by killing certain beetles. These ashes may strike out with a large magical blade, or stack a certain damage type, so an enemy will suffer for a short time, taking incremental damage. You also have certain spirits you can summon, provided you get the bell. You will first get a pack of wolves and shortly afterwards, a jellyfish. Once these are summoned in the allowed areas (shown by a portcullis icon on the left), they will attack any enemies in the vicinity, taking aggro away from you. As you venture further into the game, you’ll find additional named legendary summons, such as Oleg, who is a knight with twin swords. These spirit summons can then be upgraded by collecting the glovewort from the small dungeons scattered about the areas. It makes exploration a must, since if you don’t upgrade their ability, then they will get finished easily especially if used during a boss battle.

So, you have the small dungeons that can take ten to fifteen minutes to complete with a boss at the end, for which your spirit summons are ideal. Completing these – as well as getting needed upgrade materials – also usually give a new weapon, spell or amulet of some sorts that will up your defence. You also have what From Software are calling Legacy Dungeons, which are similar to the Zelda games, in that they are a large contained level with shortcuts back to grace sites, and a boss at the end (occasionally a mini-boss partway through also). These legacy dungeons house one of the key enemies tied to the story. Killing one of these key enemies will grant their rune, which you then have to explore, and find the divine tower in the area and make your way to the top to activate it. The different runes have different effects like upping weapon effectiveness or health etc.

You can see From Software have made a bit of an effort with the accessibility in Elden Ring with the spirit summons, stealth and ashes. A lot of folk find these games easy, and can zip through the game in no time. Then, average players like myself will be stuck for hours, even days occasionally trying to take out a boss that has nigh-on unlimited stamina, magic and a huge health bar and moves way faster than you chaining together endless attacks, or spamming spells. Here is where you will rely on other player summons, where you and two others will go at the boss, and if your health is getting low, you can back off and watch the carnage. The flip side to summoning extra human players, is that it makes these bosses even harder, and you cannot use your spirit summons if you have human players.

You also have the players who can’t be done with the constant deaths, and can’t put in the time or dedication to learn the intricacies of the worlds created and the combat. These games are a no-go brick wall, and just not accessible to them at all for the numerous reasons. Gaming, today should be available to everyone that is prepared to put their money down no matter their skill level. I’m not talking about an easy mode, but maybe something that calms the bosses down a bit, so that people can get through them and feel empowered from the experince rather than walking away. I have seen so many posts round the web, where people that have been playing 20+ hours and still haven’t managed to beat Margit the Fell Omen, who is the first major boss you will encounter, and who has to be beaten to get access to the Stormveil Castle legacy dungeon… it’s just not right.

A patch that has landed on March 17th (1.03) has nerfed a few of the Ashes of War like Hoarfrost Stomp so it takes longer to do the attack and does less damage. They have also nerfed numerous weapons, but upped power of the sorceries which is strange. It feels like From Software have seen that the Hoarfrost stomp as an example was being used too much, and actually helping players get through a tough boss fight or mob (apparently its a favourite of speed runners). So they decided it shouldn’t be played that way, given it helps players overcome a challenge. Again, this comes down to the accessibility of their games. They want players to struggle and endure, but it puts many gamers off experiencing their worlds or others will just give up.

Time To Rise, Tarnished! – Elden Ring – Part 1 – Cambonano

Overall, I have had a love/hate affair with Elden Ring over the past few weeks and it is so addictive. It looks gorgeous on the Series X in Quality Mode 4K (adaptive resolution) with a 30fps frame lock, and the music is both eerie and beautiful at the same time. You have full day & night cycles with weather, so the world feels alive – even some events only happen at night or certain points of the day. It is a phenomenal achievement that From Software have created this living world. Elden Ring, genuinely, is a masterpiece of open-world design. Side quests that mean something and can affect the ending, rather than just endless fetch quests is refreshing. Granted, the main story I feel is a little poorly told, given George RR Martin was involved with the lore, and I feel it could have done with a few more storytelling elements throughout the different areas. The story cutscene at the beginning of the Redahn Festival is great and there should have been more like this, with other key characters showing how they got where they are etc.

On the flip side, I do think these games should be made more accessible, since the process of the gameplay makes them overly hard and straight unfair at times. Daft things like the Margit boss fight you encounter early in the game, and with this being your first major boss, you fight on a broken bridge and can be knocked off, but you cannot knock him off even if staggered, as there is an invisible barrier. You also have enemies’ arrows or magic attacks which will travel through the torso of another enemy, that is in front of you not damaging them at all and hitting you. Alongside that arrow issue, I have watched arrows curve towards your character (not an expected horizontal travelling arc) whilst you dodge-roll out the way. I’ve also seen enemies and bosses where halfway through a committed attack, you roll out the way and they will still track you and hit you at times, seeing them turn a full 180 degrees. Then for some areas, you can drop a fair height to get to where you need to be, while at other times, you will die from a smaller drop. Where do you draw the line between fun and learning from a daft mistake to out-and-out frustration?

Yeah, Elden Ring is a great game if you have the patience and time to get into it. No quest tracking amongst other things, as well as the over-difficult elements put up a barrier up to a lot of gamers out there, and detracts from my previous statement though, which is a shame as everyone should be able to enjoy From Software’s games, regardless of their skill.

I don’t agree with all the 10/10 reviews out there. It’s a sorry-not-sorry type thing, but the score I am awarding is looking at the bigger picture and accessibility to gamers everywhere. On prior reviews of From Software’s games (Dark Souls III & Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice), I have had a chuckle about the quirks and problems and overlooked them. This time, however, I feel I need to highlight and score accordingly.

A big thanks to our friends at Bandai Namco for supplying us with the review code.

Elden Ring is out now on Xbox One (and Series X/S), PS5, PS4 and and Steam.

Elden Ring – Overview Trailer

Important info:

  • Developer: From Software
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco
  • Players: Single, Co-Op PvE and PvP via invasions

    OVERALL 7.5